Symptoms of Being Human – Jeff Garvin | 3.5 Stars | SST Review

Book | Symptoms of Being Human

Genre(s)| Young Adult / Contemporary / Realistic Fiction

Date of Publication| February 2nd, 2016

My Rating | 3.5 Stars

Cover:

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Review:

Book(s) – Symptoms of Being Human

Feels– For the problems the LGBTQ+ community goes through.

Tears – None

-I received a free e-ARC of this book from Edelweiss but this did not affect the review in any way-

Hey guys,

Back in October, I had requested Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin as my first ARC from Edelweiss, and amazingly, they approved my request. I read the book early in Feb, right around the time it released (goddamn exams for screwing with my schedules) and now this review is a part of the Sunday Street Team for Symptoms of Being Human.

Here’s the blurb for the book:

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, and a cause to believe in— or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

This is a very good, diverse, representative novel. In fact, this is one of the first 2016 reads that has made me think over things I had assumed to be fact and understand that there are several layers to every person.

SOBH is told through Riley’s perspective – Riley is a high school student and a genderfluid blogger. Riley hasn’t come out to her parents yet, or to anyone other than her therapist. A secret blog is started as a means of expression, which is a huge hit among the LGBTQ+ community. As a character, Riley is fairly complex and kept me interested in the life affairs throughout the novel.

Positives:

The novel deals with and brings to the forefront a very good representation of genderfluidity. While I’d heard of the term before, this was the first novel I picked up with an LGBTQ+ character as a protagonist, which is also a bildungsroman of sorts. I really enjoyed learning about the several types of gender identities, the way people choose to express their identities and the sheer number of sacrifices they have to make to feel at home with who they are. I have a much better understanding of genderfluidity and how it shapes an individual, much like my own gender identity.

The book is written every well – the words have been carefully chosen and beautifully constructed into sentences. There were some meaningful sentences I really thought over. One important factor of the book is how Garvin does not use any pronouns in the novel for Riley. Even as I write this review, I’m struggling not to use ‘she’ for Riley because of something that caught my attention in the novel, which means writing a full length novel without any gender pronouns, from the protagonist or from outsiders is quite an impressive feat.

Where the writing is concerned, this book is pretty damn good. It manages to convey the emotions Riley feels, the conflict between acceptance and rejection and there are some pretty neat scenes in the book that will open your eyes to the reality of the intolerant world that we live in.

Negatives:

While there are several positives, the book also contains several flaws. The non-use of pronouns, for instance, is definitely impressive, it is also confusing. I did not know which pronoun to employ for Riley and I can’t keep writing the name over and over again, which is very cumbersome to say the least. The use and the dictation of proper pronouns, of ones Riley wanted to be used with respect to (can’t use a pronoun see?) Riley’s identity should’ve been mentioned.

Riley as a character was simply too hard for me to connect to – that was another major problem I faced while reading the novel. I kept wondering why Riley didn’t come out to the parents, because they honestly seemed like nice people to me. And I get that it takes time for people to adjust to the idea, because hell, it took me a while to get a hang of the concept. I found Riley to simply make mountains out of molehills?

I can’t go into deeper detail, because that may giveaway crucial spoilers, but in my opinion, simply being honest with her parents earlier would have done the trick. It would’ve taken time, sure, but every big change does. Genderfluidity is a relatively new concept and it does take time to understand.

Controversially, I also think Riley invited trouble sometimes. I don’t know how to explain this, because this is a deeply personal opinion, but I think Riley behaved like a spoilt brat a lot of time and did judge everyone around as being bigots & as people who won’t ever understand –they weren’t even given the chance.

As for the blog, it was informative as hell, which also made it a bit of an info-dump. As I said earlier, I wanted to read about Riley, to see the character develop – only what I got was a blog that told me exactly how I should view genderfluditiy which I found very hypocritical. I was being asked to accept something without question, and when someone did dare to ask a question, they were given a public sarcastic smack down. To be honest, I had that question myself.

Conclusion:

Symptoms of Being Human is a very diverse novel, with bold characters like Bec & Solo, and occasionally Riley too. It educates you about genderfluidity. It is a brilliant representation of the LGBTQ+ community and how badly they can be treated in the society that we live in. If you are into books that kinda shake your world around (but in a good way) and expose you to things you haven’t thought of before, then this is book for you. But if you dislike obstinate characters, then may be try it out before you go all the way.

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

 

 

Love-A-Thon: Questionnaire | Get To Know Me

2016 Love-a-Thon

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Dates: February 20, 12AM EST – February 22, 12AM EST

Hosted by: Alexa (Alexa Loves Books), Cee (The Novel Hermit), Hazel (Stay Bookish) & Mel (The Daily Prophecy)

 

Love-A-Thon Questionnaire & My Answers

Hey guys, I’m participating in the Love-A-Thon happening from today (February 20th) to Monday (February 22nd). And this is the first in a series of posts and mini-challenges I’ll be doing. So grab something to eat, and read my asnwers to all of the below questions. Feel free to sign up at the above links (StayBookish.net) and spread the love!

1. What’s your name?

Nia Carnelio.

Profile

This is me, IRL.

2. Where in the world are you blogging from?

Mumbai, (Popularly also known as Bombay) India. (The place where Coldplay shot Hymn For The Weekend.)

3. How did you get into blogging in the first place?

I started blogging in 2013, I have a personal blog named Freedom and Inspiration and I decided to chronicle my 2015 Summer with a separate Summer Blog and later, that was converted into my Book Blog which is where you are now. Blogging started as a way to express myself, my thoughts and to work on my writing skills.

4. How did you come up with your blog name?

It took me a while to come up with Books, Feels and Tears. I tried NiaCarnelioReads but I was told and then realized it too, it’s too immature. A distant yet commonplace blog name would be better than something people wouldn’t remember or be able to pronounce.

5. What genre do you read and review the most on your blog?

I finally accepted my undeniable love for Young Adult books and stopped shaming myself for reading them and not the classics and that is what I primarily read and review on BFT. But I also read and review NA.

6. What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews?

My book blog exists solely for bookish posts – favorite books, reviews, that kind of stuff. I have my personal blog (mentioned above) for all of my life stories and ramblings. I should really learn to post more here, huh?

7. Best blogging experience so far?

Oh, it’s hard to pick one. I think the wonderful Twitter chats and the blog hops people do thanks to which they end up on my blog is such a wonderful feeling. Other than that, it’s probably the time I won twenty books from Young Adult Scavenger Hunt – that was the time I started thinking about book blogging seriously and also the first time I’d heard about ARCs.

8. Favorite thing about the blogging community?

The kinship – everyone is such good friends with each other that sometimes it’s hard to weave your way in, but if the effort is made, it is so worth it. There’s so much positivity to counter any negativity and so much love that it makes you feel like part of something really amazing.

9. Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2016!

  • The Goal by Elle Kennedy
  • The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
  • Beyond The Red by Ava Jae
  • Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

10. Name the 5 books you want to read this 2016 that you didn’t get to in previous years!

  • Vicious by V.E Schwab
  • Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

11. What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?

The Mates, Dates series by Cathy Hopkins. I know this is more middle-grade than YA, but this taught me so much in my preteen years. Oh, and Animorphs too. This series introduced me to Sci-Fi and I’ve fallen in love with it. I’m rereading the entire series this year, it’s the twentieth anniversary!

12. Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF?

Very cliché, but Hermione Granger. Although, I’m not as mental about scoring marks or high grades. But yeah, the love for reading would definitely draw us to becoming best friends. I think my sarcasm would complement her neuroticism fairly well. And she’d keep my procrastinating ass in line.

13. Which book boy or girl would be your book boyfriend/girlfriend?

James Potter. I know he belongs to Lily Evans-Potter, heck, they’re my OTP but James is also my one true love. Or I wouldn’t mind Garrett Graham from The Deal or Tarver Merendsen from These Broken Stars either.

14. Who would you recruit for your apocalypse squad (5 characters max).

  • Hermione Granger
  • Deadpool (Are non-bookish characters allowed?)
  • Kady Grant (from Illuminae)
  • Tarver Merendsen
  • Lily Potter (which means James isn’t too far behind, and therefore neither is Sirius. ALL HAIL THE MARAUDERS.)

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15. Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests?

Blogging & tweeting are things I enjoy immensely. Other than that, watching YouTubers such as Dan & Phil, iiSuperwomanii, Tyler Oakely, fangirling too much, crying over my dead OTPs and surfing Tumblr are things I love doing.

16. Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for?

Nothing – I suck at shopping. Shopping for clothes is my worst enemy, I pick up the most useless stuff. But I do enjoy shopping for fandom merch – t-shirts, badges, buttons, those sort of things.

17. At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing?

It changes every day. Right now it would be the Deadpool Rap.

“Sexy Motherfucker.”

18. Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book.

  • Book to film: Illuminae
  • Show to Book: Supernatural

19. What would your dream library look like?

belle

Forget the fairytale, all I want is the library.

Ceiling to floor shelves filled with books, fandom merch everywhere – from Harry Potter to Supernatural to Doctor Who among many others. And maybe James and Lily & the Marauders sitting and having some tea on the several fluffy cushions from Society6 that I somehow had the money to buy.

20. Author you want to meet and sit down to tea with?

J.K. Rowling.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about me. Hope you’re having fun, and do participate in the Love-A-Thon!

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

HELLO? – Liza Wiemer | SALE

Hey guys,

I know, I know, I’ve kinda been absent after my fiery Red Queen review but I’m all done with assignments and stuff to do, so I’m back! And I bring great news with me. If you’ve been around the blogosphere, then you probably know, but in the event that you didn’t (HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING UNDER A ROCK?) HELLO? by Liza Wiemer has been on SALE since 13-02 (02-13, for all you Americans).

Today, i.e. the fifteenth, is the last day you can buy HELLO? for 0.99 cents. Even I know that’s bloody cheap and you should get your hands on it right now.

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LINKS TO GET HELLO?

Still on the fence? Allow me to persuade you:

BLURB:

One HELLO can change a life. One HELLO can save a life.

Tricia: A girl struggling to find her way after her beloved grandma’s death.
Emerson: A guy who lives his life to fulfill promises, real and hypothetical.
Angie: A girl with secrets she can only express through poetry.
Brenda: An actress and screenplay writer afraid to confront her past.
Brian: A potter who sets aside his life for Tricia, to the detriment of both.

Linked and transformed by one phone call, Hello? weaves together these five Wisconsin teens’ stories into a compelling narrative of friendship and family, loss and love, heartbreak and healing, serendipity, and ultimately hope.

Told from all five viewpoints: narration (Tricia), narration (Emerson), free verse poetry (Angie), screenplay format (Brenda), narration and drawings (Brian).

I mean, come on. This sounds totally up your alley if you’re into Contemporary and/or YA fiction and I really do think you should give this a try. And for 0.99 cents, it’s worth it, I’d say.

Add it on Goodreads, get it on Amazon – it’s a deal you don’t want to pass up. After all, Valentine’s Day is over and you need something feel-good to cuddle with or something to read as you munch on those lovely goodies you got / bought. Read it alone, read it to your partner, read it aloud – you and I both know you want to. So go get it right now!

And here’s a giveaway to make it worth your while for buying the book:

A Rafflecopter Giveaway.

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

RED QUEEN – VICTORIA AVEYARD | 1 STAR

Book | Red Queen

Genre(s)| Young Adult / Fantasy

Date of Publication| February 10th, 2015

My Rating | 1 STAR [Only because Goodreads won’t let me give it zero stars.]

Cover:

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REVIEW:

Book(s) – Red Queen

Feels– Murderous Ones.

Tears – Of Annoyance and Rage.

I don’t know how to start this review. I’m just so very pissed about this book, and it’s been a month. I think a little bit of context will help:

I won some money from a contest and decided to buy Red Queen as one of the books I wanted to get with that money. I paid around seven dollars for this book – which isn’t much if you live in the US and are used to spending dollars but when it comes to dollar to rupee conversion (68 bucks, give or take), I’d ended up spending around 475 bucks on this book. AND my friend told me she bought a copy of it two days after my book had shipped. Which means I could’ve just borrowed it from her, now couldn’t I?

Sigh.

The book had me interested in it since March last year, having just gotten started with tweeting and book blogging and what not. And the HYPE, dear god, everywhere I saw people were praising this book to the high heavens and demanding for a sequel and RQ was winning awards left, right and centre at pretty much anything.

Here’s the blurb if you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t read it yet:

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart  . . .

So, let’s begin.

First of all, this book is a rip-off. Of every YA Fantasy book that ever used divisions in society ever. I got some very strong Grisha Trilogy and Hunger Games vibes from this one.

A girl, suddenly discovers she has X powers and is taken to the palace to learn stuff and then quietly rebels and joins an underground rebel group. Sounds familiar? – The Grisha Trilogy in a nutshell. And already this doesn’t bode well because I found those books just average. And Mare – protagonist of Red Queen and the biggest complain box I’ve ever had the misfortune of reading about. She is so vapid, so lifeless and so whiny she puts Paris Hilton, Kanye West and Donald Trump to shame. I did not connect with her whatsoever, in fact many times I wanted to give her a nice whack and shut her up.

And let’s talk about the love quadrilateral. One girl, three boys: a prince, a villain, and a best friend. Again, a rip-off of the Grisha Trilogy. I’m not saying that’s the original, but the entire book is pretty damn similar. Amazingly, even with so many characters, not one of them could redeem the novel.

SPOILERS beyond this point:

So we have Maven – the nice prince turned villain – except I could see that twist coming from a mile away. Seriously, the way Mare kept saying “Trust no-one, blah blah blah…” you’d have to be pretty damn stupid to not realize what was happening. Quite possibly, Maven might be the only one who has any semblance of character in this entire novel.

END of SPOILERS:

There is an obnoxiously large amount of info-dump in the first few pages of the novel itself. And then it continues, in the worst way possible. Also, literally every character in the novel is from TGT. Even Baghra, the ‘stern old woman’ has a place here with another stern old woman instructor, who doesn’t have any of her good sense or likeability.

The book hasn’t only ripped off TGT, but also The Hunger Games and I think, though I can’t be sure, The Selection (I’ve not read this series, but going by blurb, it does sound similar). There are arenas for matches of power display which are a way for the government (King) to maintain control over the Red Population. Aside from the very offensive allusion to the White-Black Slavery, this book also picks up the very Cinderella trope of showing off before the Prince to be his bride (except the prince wants the poor, commoner). Even the final scene, the fight in the area is reminiscent of the Hunger Games with elemental powers.

In other aspects the book bombed – the writing. I found it choppy and very annoying. It seemed as though the writer thought all of her readers were supremely dumb and needed to be told multiple times throughout the book about things so they’d understand and remember. Talk about condescending. And there’s also the wonderful way the book was written – drab and boring until the last few chapters where literally everything turns into a shitstorm.

FUN STUFF:

So, recently Nicola from Queen of The Bookshelves tweeted that there was a mention of a ‘red-purple bruise’ on one of the Silver characters. PURPLE & RED bruise on a Silver character. Has that sunk in yet? And then she also tweeted a picture of a question someone had asked the author on Goodreads:

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Yeah. You see?

So when I mentioned this to a friend, she said, yeah, especially since she has to bleed once a month anyway.

Yep. I missed all of these, probably because of the fury I was feeling because of this book. This book is an absolute travesty. I’m officially labelling it as the worst book I’ve ever read, and I’ve read some absolute nonsense in the name of books. Also, the world -building isn’t anything good either. I couldn’t understand half the stuff happening because I couldn’t picture it and it just got real messy, real fast. Apparently it’s supposed to be old Greece? With electricity? I didn’t get that AT ALL. Of course, that might be because the world building and the fantasy aspect is pretty low on my fury radar.

In my humble opinion, the hype lies. This book is a fucking disaster and I don’t know how on earth there are four of this series coming out. Who let the first one out, I don’t know. And it certainly isn’t anything great – heck, it isn’t even average.

Here’s what I said immediately after finishing the book and I still stand by it:

I dunno how and why people like this. This book literally picks up the best bits of popular dystopian & fantasy novels and butchers them. The writing is choppy and coupled with the info-dump at the start of the novel, this really has no saving grace.

I will not recommend this to anyone. Dear god, what a travesty. Pick up something else, there are loads of better written and well plotted books out there that don’t use the same trope and destroy it so callously.

I know I’m definitely not picking up Glass Sword ever. And thankfully, from the reviews I’ve been seeing around the blogosphere that one isn’t good either.

-end of my rage rant-

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.